Guest Column

Recently, it has seemed that all we talk about is what to do with our houseless population. As a city councilor, I get dozens of communications a week about this subject. I acknowledge that we all have differing opinions on the cause of houselessness, why it is growing in our city, and certainly the solutions. But we can all agree on one thing: what we have now is unacceptable for everybody. It’s unacceptable to have people living in tents in traffic. It’s unacceptable for businesses to have to clean up from people living outside. It’s unacceptable to have streets taken over. It’s unacceptable that we have nowhere for people to go. It’s unacceptable for anyone to feel unsafe whether houseless or not. It’s unacceptable to have people be at risk of dying from the cold.

As you have heard, the city is putting together plans on multiple fronts to help. But, what you may not be aware of is that this is the first council to really take on houselessness and it has grown so quickly that we are, in the words of city staffer Carolyn Eagan, “building a plane while flying it.”

A quick list of what we have done and what is in the works:

  • We purchased the warming shelter on Second Street. It’s currently at max capacity.
  • We purchased a hotel and are in the process of renovating it for use as a shelter.
  • We are looking to purchase another hotel for use as a shelter and a navigation center.
  • We formed the Emergency Homelessness Task Force to develop a strategic plan and the Sounding Board to recommend changes to our shelter code.
  • We are collaborating with the county on funding and looking at a potential joint office concept.
  • The city has compiled a list of city owned land for potential outdoor shelters along with an RFP in order to see if there are service providers who have a vision for this land.
  • We have dedicated half of our ARPA funds to shelters.

It’s not happening quickly enough. A look at our incredible Veterans Village will tell you that, yes, these projects can be incredibly impactful and successful but that they take ALL of us and they take a long time.

And this is where I appeal to you. We need all of us to find a solution.

I’m specifically putting a call out for help this winter. None of our projects will be ready to go in the next few months as we go through the necessary vetting process and do public outreach. We need locations for temporary warming shelters. If we don’t do something, people will die. They did last winter and they did during our heat wave.

I’m calling on anyone with an empty building. Can we lease your space for 4 months for a shelter? I’m calling on churches, schools and other community organizations. Can we do safe parking in your parking lot or use part of your building? I’m calling on businesses. How can you offer your skills and creativity to find us warm locations for our houseless? And I’m calling on all of us. Can you help think of safe ways of staying warm? We have the funds. What we don’t have is the space or the humanpower to be able to finish the job.

Let’s work together. We don’t have to be on opposite sides. We can accept our differences and work on this together. We can temporarily put aside the things that make us disagree in order to make this city a better place. I’ll be reaching out to communities in Bend over the next few weeks and holding online listening sessions where you can bring your collaborative ideas. Let’s talk them through! Maybe something great can come out of them. In the meantime, please contact me at mperkins@bendoregon.gov. I look forward to our discussions.

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Megan Perkins is a Bend city councilor.

(7) comments

Gary Mendoza

We can all agree that no one should die on Bend’s streets. What’s lacking from this call to action is any effort to reduce the number of homeless. Accommodating homelessness has increased the number of people living on the streets. Doubling down on failure isn’t a path to success.

Skittish

A lot of things that used to be considered unacceptable are now completely acceptable, for example lying openly and racism if it is from a black person. Second, it is acceptable to feel safe, whether or not someone is homeless. Third, the "homeless" are not just people without houses. They are a lot more complicated than that. This will require putting aside differences permanently or in other words, differing opinions are just not acceptable.

BuckeyeDuck

Ahh, Southlake, another good one on the race thingy. There's nothing acceptable about it from either side. But you deflect as usual.

Transitory Inflation

Lying openly? As a black person? Not a good plan. At minimum you have to be a fake billionaire that can milk a donor base every years for low nine figures if you want to lie with impunity and fence off fraud complaints. Just not a lot of minorities that can do it. I think that proves the point, not a good plan, not happening.

Skittish

I’m not certain what you are saying. It seems like you are agreeing that lying is bad and racism by anyone is bad. The article doesn’t have anything to do with minorities, but I am using one of the most obvious examples of what is currently acceptable and that is for dark toned people to be as publicly prejudiced and racist as they want, a privilege not even Trump has. If his words and context have to be manipulated, then the interpretation is inaccurate. I initially believed everything the media reported about Trump, by the way. But then I started seeing unedited videos and did some more research of other claims. What I learned was contrary to my baseline beliefs, so I had to change my mind.

Yes indeed, lying openly, by many, and particularly the illiberal left, Biden, social media and mainstream media is quite acceptable. Yes, Trump lied as well, and this was obvious from the beginning. If you can tell Trump lied, why not everyone else that I mentioned? However, the media and illiberal left lie to a greater degree and more often: for example Trump didn’t call white supremacists “very fine people” or to inject “bleach” to treat C19. If Trump is so evil, why the need to lie so incessantly? But lying is bad no matter who does it, why or to what degree. There are several different types of lies, but they all contaminate our thinking, perceptions, feelings, relationships and decisions as they are often used to manipulate each other for a specific effect.

It is quite obvious the new overton window is that black people are good and white people bad. Skin tone determines one’s moral standing and the sins of the past are as if it is right now and one’s guilt is determined by melanin content. White people are guilty in some way, somehow, consciously, unconsciously, intentionally or inadvertently it is said. Now that doesn’t mean I believe, nor many people in general including black people, that one bit, but that is what seems to be socially acceptable at this point and for the near term. But I do get the idea that the tide is turning on this. If white supremacy and systemic racism are so obvious, detrimental and pervasive, how can it then be so invisible? The effects should be easily measurable and other causes accounted for, which is never done by the woke. The answer isn’t that because white people benefit, that they can’t see it. For example, I can make a false accusation about someone and then when they protest say, “See, you doth protest too much”, which is proof of their guilt.

BuckeyeDuck

Blah, blah, blah , Southlake. Blah, blah, blah and more blah Southlake. From the individual, you Southlake, who I mentioned would deny the Holocaust happened, more blah blah blah. Watching the news stories out of Southlake Texas about opposing views should be given about the Holocaust by teachers I thought of you. Hence the Nom de Plume, Southlake.

91184

Very well said. This isn't an easy task and it will take a citywide effort.

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